NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/7/3


七星剣 Shichisei-ken Shichiseiken (Seven Star Sword)

Jp En


Shichseiken or Seven Star Sword is a Japanese sword that is 62.1cm in length and belongs to the Shitennou-ji Temple located in Shitennouji-ku, Oosaka City, Oosaka. It is designated as a National Treasure.
Shitennou-ji Temple was built by Shoutoku Taishi in 598 and it is sacred to Kukanzeonbosatsu.
Along with Heishishourinken, another sword that is also kept in Shitennou-ji, Shichiseiken is said to have been much loved by Shoutoku Taishi.
The name Seven Star Sword came from the fact that the sword is engraved with seven golden stars in the shape of a plough, using a technique called zougan.  Additionally, the front side of the sword is carved with 5 asukagumo, using the golden zogan technique and at both ends of the seven stars, there are three V-shaped stars and three stars aligned with a blue dragon and a white tiger.  The back of the sword is also engraved with asukagumo, seven stars, a blue dragon and a white tiger.
Shichiseiken, by comparison to Heishishourinken, has a more noticeable residual metal substance called suragu, however, it uses a finer raw metal called koitame-hada and it has a hososugu blade.
Shichiseiken is a historically valuable sword that has been carefully preserved from an ancient period.


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2008/6/16


飛鳥坐神社 Asukaniimasu-jinja Asukaniimasu Shrine

Jp En

On top of Mount Torigata in Asuka-mura, Nara, sits Asukaniimasu Shrine.
     Asukaniimasu Shrine traces its origins to the mythological age when Ookuninushi-no-kami dedicated the spirit of Kanayaruno-mikoto, a guardian god of the Imperial Family, to Ikazuchinoka mountain.   This is considered to be one of the holy mountains to which a god might descend.  In 829, as directed by an oracle, the spirit of Kanayaruno-mikoto was transferred to Mount Torigata.
     The shrine was burned down in 1725 and its structure was restored to its current state in 1781 by Uemura Ietoshi, the head of the Takatoshi Clan.
     On the first Sunday of every February, an event called The Onda Festival takes place at the shrine to pray for a rich harvest and family prosperity. The festival is a religious ritual that represents life and it is one of the “Three Unusual Festivals” in Western Japan.
     At the beginning of the performance, two men wearing  masks of Tengu, the mythological goblin, and Okina, an old man, both holding a bamboo stick called “sasara”, begin chasing the audience around- adults and children alike, and whacking them on the behind.  Once the men come back to the stage in front of the shrine, they perform the ritual of the rice harvest including prowling the rice paddy and planting rice.  This is followed by the wedding of Tengu and Otafuku, representing a woman.
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2008/4/15


瓦 Kawara Kawara Roofing Tile

Jp En

Kawara, are roofing tiles made of fired clay.
History indicates that Kawara first appeared in China around 2,800 years ago. They were introduced to Japan in the middle of the 6th Century, at the same time Buddhism was introduced from Kudara, now Korea. Kawara were reportedly first used for the Asuka Temple in Japan.
At that time, temples were the only buildings allowed to use Kawara roofing tiles.  In the Nara period, however. Kawara began to be used for various other types of buildings.
In the Edo period, new styles of Kawara were invented and the tiles came into popular use.  Their widespread use was encouraged because they are fire proof.
Kawara are roughly classified into two categories in Japan: Nyouyaku Gawara or Glazed tiles and Ibushi Kawara or tiles which have oxidized and formed a silver- colored carbon film.  As for shapes, there are now more than 1,000 varieties of Kawara.
Currently Sanshuu Kawara in Aichi, Awaji Kawara in Hyogo and Sekishu Kawara in Shimane are the three biggest production districts of  high quality Kawara.  They represent the finest in Japanese roofing tile making.
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2007/10/31


西琳寺 Sairin-ji Sairinji Temple

Jp En

Sairinji Temple is a Shingon sect temple located in Furuichi, Habikino City, Osaka Pref. The principal image is the standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai. According to the temple record, it originates in Kogenji Temple established by the Kawachi no Fumi clan, the descendents of a Confucian scholar Wang In of Baekje.
The excavated tiles and other items indicate that the temple was established at some time during the Asuka period (the late 6th C. to the early 8th C.). The foundation stone of a pagoda placed in the garden of the temple is nearly 2 m tall and over 27 tons in weight. It is the largest foundation stone of a pagoda identified with the Asuka period. The formal seven buildings had been completed by 679 and it is confirmed that those buildings had existed until 743. Most of the buildings and the pagoda were destroyed by the battles in the Warring States period (1493-1573) and Haibutsu Kishaku (the anti-Buddhism movement) in the Meiji period (1868-1912).
As one of the Kawachi Asuka Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune) temples, Sairinji Temple worships the deity Ebisu, who wears the Kazaori Eboshi (a tall hat) and the Kariginu (hunting garment) with holding a fishing rod and a red sea bream. Sairinji is a temple with a long history since the ancient times.
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2007/5/21


鑿(のみ) Nomi Chisels

Jp En

A chisel is a tool used for making a bore hole or carving a channel in a hard material such as wood, stone, or metal. The origin of a chisel dates back to the Stone Age. In Japan, it was during the Asuka period (the 6th to the early 8th centuries) when a chisel in almost the same shape as today first appeared.

Chisels have a wide variety of uses. Many types of chisels have been devised, each specially suited to its intended use. There are so many different types of chisels that even a metalsmith who is specialized in making chisels doesn’t know the shape or use of a particular chisel, which he knows by name.

As a chisel is an indispensable tool for carpentry, it has contributed to constructiong various historic buildings existing in Japan. Just stand in front of those buildings to think of bygone days and imagine that this small tool did exist in those days and was used by an ancient craftsman in the same way as it is today. You will feel history more familiar than ever.
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2007/3/16


弘誓寺 Guzei-ji Guzeiji Temple

Jp En

Guzeiji Temple, or generally called “Udo Kannon,” was established by the Indian monk Hodo Sennin (the immortal Taoist) in a mountain village of Udo some time during the Taika era (645-650) in the Asuka period. In the ancient times the temple was so prosperous that there were many temple buildings collectively called “Makigamine Sengenbo (1,000 Sobo or living quarters of Buddhist priests in Mt. Makigamine).” However, as the Heike forces, who were defeated in the Genpei Wars, took a refuge in this mountain, all the buildings were burned down by the attack of Genji forces in 1182. As the main object of worship, the image of Sho Kannon was hidden in the nearby waterfall to escape fire during this battle, the temple has been called “Seiryu-san Guzeiji (Guzeiji in the clear mountain stream).” The image of Sho Kannon is believed to have the power to cure diseases, and a lot of local people attend the prayer service held every morning.
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2007/3/12


長尾神社 Nagao-jinjya Nagao Shrine

Jp En

Nagao Shrine in Nagao, Katsuragi City, Nara Pref. is a shrine that is rich in legend. The enshrined deities are Mihikarihime no Mikoto and Shirakumowake no Mikoto. It is said that this shrine was a guardian god of the Nagao clan, who ruled the area along the ancient Taima Road.
According to a legend, Ryuosha Shrine in Yamato Takada represents the head of a dragon and Nagao Shrine represents its tail. Another legend says Miwa Myojin Shrine the head and the Nagao Shrine the tail of a large snake. The shrine is located in the woods of Nagao, which is the cross point of the Takeuchi Road, Japan’s oldest official road connecting Asukakyo (present-day Nara) and Naniwa (present-day Osaka), the Ise-Hase Road and the Nagao Road.
Dense forest covers most of its 1.3 ha precinct, where visitors will be impressed with the solemn atmosphere. This is the ancient sacred place filled with air of mystery.
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野中寺 Yachuu-ji Yachuji Temple

Jp En

Yachuji Temple located in Habikino City, Osaka Pref. is a temple of the Shingon sect Buddhism. The principal image of Buddha is the statue Yakushi Nyorai. It is the 14th temple of Saigoku 49 Yakushi Pilgrimage Temples, the 5th Shotoku Taishi Reiseki Temples, and the 4th Kawachi 6 Kannon Temples. It is said to be one of the 48 temples that were founded by Crown Prince Shotoku. By order of Prince Shotoku, this temple is said to have been constructed by the Absolute Minister, Sogano Umako. During the periods of Asuka through Nara (the 6th century to the end of the 8th century), it was a huge temple with formal buildings. In the later periods, it declined for some time, but in the Edo period, it was flourished again as Kangakuin (academy for trainee monks) of the Ritsu School of Buddhism.
It is also called “Naka-no Taishi,” one of the three Taishi Temples; the others are Eifukuji Temple as “Kami-no Taishi,” and Daisei Shogunji Temple as “Shimo-no Taishi.”
The statue of Miroku Bosatsu of the Hakuho culture (the late 7th C. to the early 8th C.) and the statue of Jizo Bosatsu of the Kamakura period (1192-1333) are Important Cultural Properties. Yachuji Temple is a historic temple pertaining to Prince Shotoku.
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